Race Report: 2023 BC Bike Race Day 1-3 in the Cowichan Valley

Jul 6, 2023
by BC Bike Race  

Words: BC Bike Race

2023 BC Bike Race Day 1-3: Cowichan Valley

BC Bike Race 2023

BC Bike Race kicked off its 17th year with a return to Vancouver Island, back where it all began. Riders had their first sample of the iconic west coast greenery with a short dip into the singletrack on Maple Mountain for the opening Prologue.

Racing in the Green Zone was frenetic over the first three days, with new names rising to challenge returning champions. On the men’s side all three stages saw winning margins of four seconds or less as Craig Oliver battles it out with Canadian brothers Quinton and Peter Disera.

BC Bike Race start line is back on Vancouver Island this year
BC Bike Race startlines return to Vancouver Island.

Craig Oliver battles the Disera Brothers.

After three days of racing, 2023 BC Bike Race is turning into a battle between Craig Oliver and the Diseras. Which Disera brother the New Zealand racer is up against seems to change every day, though. In the Prologue and on Mount Tzouhalem, it was Quinton. On Maple Mountain, Peter led the attacks.

Craig Oliver leads Quinton Disera down Mount Tzouhalem
Quinton leads Craig on Tzouhalem.

If the brothers are working as a team, they aren’t letting much on.

“We’re competitive, but if he can nail it down, that’s good. If I get stronger throughout the week, it’s good,” Peter admits, adding, “Just as long somebody walks away with it.”

After two burly days of racing, Quinton dropped down the standings as his brother and Oliver duked it out on the way up to, and down from Maple Mountain summit.

Rock bluffs and views off of Maple Mountain
Rock bluffs were a brief moment of calm for racers on Maple Mountain.
Arbutus views
Arbutus views.

Sitting quietly in third is 2021 BC Bike Race winner, Andrew L’Esperance.

bigquotesIt’s my first time back to what I consider the original BCBR. The organization did a great job putting on a great event in the Okanagan but I think this is the BCBR so it’s special to be back here.Andrew L'Esperance

Craig Oliver and Andrew L Esperance are the only two riders on all three Open Men s podiums this year
Craig Oliver and Andrew L'Esperance are the only two riders on all three Open Men's podiums this year.
Back in the Green Room.

Geoff Kabush and the BCBR are back on home turf
Geoff Kabush.

Carter Nieuwesteeg, on the podium last year, and multi-time BCBR winner Geoff Kabush are in fourth and fifth. If the fireworks at the front of the field get as hot as this week’s weather, another implosion could open the door for any of these favourites. For Kabush, the Island Roots run deep.

bigquotesI really love going back to all the places I rode as a young kid, and I’m excited to head back to Cumberland where I first started,” the veteran Canadian racer said ahead of Monday’s start.Geoff Kabush

Remi Gauvin throwing up dust on Maple Mountain
Remi Gauvin charging into the dust on Maple Syrup.

Remi The Semi revs up for the long haul

Another rider that was attacking the descent from Maple Mountain was none other than Rocky Mountain Race Face enduro pro, Remi Gauvin. Remi “The Semi” launched down Maple Syrup’s steep chutes and rock faces to land a solid eighth-place finish on Day 3 and now sits 11th overall.

Navigating his opposing strengths with the largely XCO field has required some tactics and some tact. He’s been trying to hang with the cross country whippets to get a clear a run as possible at the descents.

The chute was dusty this year
Maple Syrup's infamous chute caused issues for many riders on Wednesday.

bigquotesThey’re getting out of the way. They know who I am and that I can go a lot faster than them on the descents, so they’re very respectful. I’ll get out of their way on the climbs and they can get out of my way on the descents.Remi Gauvin

Katerina Nash finds the flow on Tzouhalem
Katerina Nash is back at BCBR and already back in yellow.

Katerina Nash returns to BC Bike Race

Katerina Nash is back at the BC Bike Race for the first time in four years. The California-based Czech rider has picked up where she left off, in the leader’s jersey, but not without a strong challenge from a new group of contenders.

bigquotesWe definitely have a good competitive field. Evelyn is riding really strong. It’s great to see Eva, and have a young rider in there. She’s quite sendy on the downhills. I’m just really excited to be back at BCBR, it’s been four years. I do love the riding here. So many people want to travel from around the world to ride these trails, so I’m pretty stoked.Katerina Nash

Sandra Walter diving down the gnar on Maple Mountain
Sandra Walter.
Caroline Dezendorf dives into Maple Mountain s infamous chute
Caroline Dezendorf.

Young Canadian Eva Poidevin and U.S. racer Evelyn Dong are have both pushed the past BCBR champ to tight finishes on all three days of racing in the Cowichan Valley. Mount Tzouhalem proved to be the only course where Nash could create meaningful separation. On Day 3, Dong and Poidevin tracked her up and almost all the way down Maple Mountain.

Again, it is a past champion sitting fourth that could throw a wrench into the current standings. Sandra Walter returns to BC Bike Race after winning last year in the Okanagan.

bigquotesThe trails here are awesome. Last year was really fun too, a different flavour. I’m looking forward to more familiar turf here with rainforest-type singletrack.Sandra Walter

Johhny Rock
Johnny Rock!

Basecamp completes the return to “The Ultimate Singletrack Experience”

BC Bike Race’s week-long event doesn’t stop when racers cross the finish line. The return to camping means the return of Basecamp and all of its amenities. Along with wellness, a beer garden, live DJ’s and 250 tents, Basecamp is about making racers feel at home. This year, that included helping American racers celebrate Independence Day here in Canada.

Day 2 started with Johnny Rock calling riders to the start line by blaring the Star Spangled Banner from a trailer top in the middle of the tent village. Many riders marked the day by racing in their U.S. kit, as Rebecca Fahringer wore to a top 10 finish or, in the case of Wisconsin/Minnesota team VanVan Overland Kollectiv, a pair very American matching bald eagle and Stars and Stripes jerseys.


Stars and Stripes were everywhere on Tuesday
Stars and Stripes were everywhere Tuesday.

“We’re here, man! Everyone’s back home celebrating for us, they’re all partying right now.” said Thomas Olek of his Fourth of July celebrations. The stoke was still strong, despite showing signs of a heavy dirt sample. “Oh, I went down, yeah. I was minor, I walked away so I’m not really concerned. But I went over the bars.”

“If you don’t have a little blood on you, were you even riding?” added his teammate, Calvin Dumer

Not your average start line attire
Not your average start line attire.
Not standard but clearly successful
...but it clearly worked.

The next day, it was a more local team turning heads with their race outfits. Zoe Dawson and Sara Archer were enjoying the sweet taste of Maple Syrup on Day 3 in matching pink tutus.

“We wanted to have fun. Everyone seems pretty serious and, in Squamish, it’s just something the ladies do when we race.” Sara explains, with Zoe adding “It was definitely more fun rocking the tutu. People were nicer to us, too.”

The team thrived on Maple Mountain’s technical sections, finishing second in the Open Women’s Team of 2 category. After a successful debut, the apparently high-performance outfits could make a return later in the week.

“Yeah, I think so. Whenever it feels like it’s going to be a suffery day,” Sara starts, “The tutus make it less suffery,” Zeo finished. “They’re very light actually,” Sara explained, with Zoe adding “The airflow is amazing!”

Relaxing and recovering with new friends back at Basecamp
Wakey Wakey.
Relaxing and recovering with new friends back at Basecamp
Relaxing and recovering with new friends back at Basecamp.

Basecamp for this week s racing
Crofton was Basecamp #1 for this week's racing.

On Thursday, BC Bike Race relocates to Nanaimo for the day. A 35.5 km course, with just a 3km neutral return, will squeeze in a vertical gain, and loss, of 1,034 metres. Westwood Lake and the South Benson trails promise long, continuous descending on fast, occasionally rough trails, connected by the occasional punchy, steep climb.

With the shift to Nanaimo trails, BCBR Basecamp is also on the move. The tent community travels north to settle into Cumberland for the remainder of the week.

Race Reports

Open Women’s standings (Stage 3)
Katerina Nash 4:05:06
Evelyn Dong +3:12
Sara Poidevin +7:45

Open Men’s standings (Stage 3)
Craig Oliver 3:21:35
Peter DIsera +3:27
Andrew L’Esperance +4:48

Full Results


MENTIONS: Dave Silver / Margus Riga / BC Bike Race / Jens Klett

Author Info:
BCBR avatar

Member since Nov 3, 2011
149 articles

  • 55 1
 Some bike checks would be nice.
  • 32 0
 everyone runs a 34, you're welcome
  • 10 1
 @iiman: fork or chainring?
  • 4 0
 @AyJayDoubleyou: Good point, it wasn't clear. There are also some on 32, and I wouldn't be surprised if a rider or two are on 36. 38 seems excessive and 40 would be completely inappropriate, even in the unlikely event the frame can accommodate it. I suppose you could make 40 work, if you really wanted to, but no serious XC racer is going to run a double.

Hope this helps!
  • 17 0
 That guy at the start line adjusting the other dudes fork settings haha!
  • 7 0
 "He'll really enjoy a plush feel on this one!"
  • 1 1
 Yellow jersey for leaders and cowards.
  • 13 1
 Proof that enduro dudes are FIT with Remi @ 11th. I raced it in 2019 and was surprised how fit Mckay Venzina was, he crushed it, figured I could hang with him overall since I am reasonable fast local XC guy, barely hung on the climbs, and he was obviously see-ya wouldn't wanna be-ya on the descents.....very impressive.
  • 2 0
 Several of the top enduro riders started out in high-level XC - or track, in the case of Gloria Scarsi. I've heard MvdP has a few Strava KOMs at some DH bike park. Jared Graves finished second in the Australian XCO nationals and fourth in the Oceania XCO championships. Elites gonna elite!
  • 13 0
 @mikekazimer in an admirable 41st! What happened to Levy? DNF?
  • 1 0
  • 12 0
 Cool to see Macky on the front lines, Remi dicing up the XCO crowd, and Kaz 41st!
  • 13 2
 Today’s blown out Island trail report.
  • 7 1
 Remi just rollin all the decents with that Ludacris song stuck in his head......you know that one. MOVE BITCH GET OUT DA WAY....GET OUT DA WAY!
  • 7 1
 homeboy wearing baggies is the real mvp.
  • 3 0
 The course went within 200 feet of my house on today's leg, we saw the marking tape up when we took our dogs for a walk!
  • 3 1
 So is Levy coming back now that he doesn't have to focus on training?
  • 3 0
 Bike checks!
  • 1 0
 Please refer to iiman's reply. one of the best bike checks ever !
  • 1 0
 Eva Poidevin is in third. Not Sara.
  • 1 0
 5’4” riders using 800’s
  • 1 0
 Top notch photos
  • 4 0
 There are photographers every two kms along this race. I hope some turn out ok!
  • 1 4
 from racing world cups to being down minutes to a local fast guy. norco made the right call on pulling the plug on the xc team.
  • 9 1
 Are you referring to those guys being down on Craig Oliver? He isn't a local fast guy.... He's from New Zealand. Current NZ XCO Elite #2 (beat his good mate Anton Cooper at this years Nationals)
  • 1 1
 @Cabin: Anton is actually the real thing. never heard of the other guy.
  • 3 0
 @gatogordo2: Here you go, now you've heard of him... mtbdata.com/riders/craig-oliver

He's been one on NZ's better riders for quite a long time. Close mate of Anton's. And his brother Ben has ridden the last two commonwealth games for NZ

As a privateer had put international racing on the back burner for a while (especially during Covid times). But he's a very strong performer when he pursues it. As are many others you might not have heard of
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